Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Ineffectual Risk-taker Conundrum (which leads to my self-publishing PROS and CONS list)

I am a risk taker, an entrepreneur, and a visionary. In the corporate world, I earn my living by making things happen. I ensure billion dollar businesses continue to move forward. And yet, in my writing career, I felt stagnant and helpless. When it came to getting my stories into readers’ hands, I was ineffectual.
So why did it take me so long to leap in this direction?
Honestly, there is a mismatch between digital publishing and core YA readership. Teens still want physical books they can hold in their hands, and after reading, place on a shelf in their bedroom. In part, their books define who they are. Although some kids are using eReaders, the majority are not. In YA, bonding with a story = hardcopy = for keeps.
For a YA story, not being in bookstores in a HUGE CON.
Fortunately, YA now has a lot of older, cross-over readership who do have kindles and nooks and iPads—oh, my! If I was going to self-pub, I needed to adjust my core demographic to this market. Because I have a passion for connecting with teenagers, it took me a long time to realign my target reader. Not that I don’t LOVE the cross-over YA readers (or Yougers as I like to lovingly call grown women, like myself, addicted to YA), but self-publishing meant accepting that this story would never be housed next to Cassandra Clare and Suzanne Collins at my local Barnes and Noble. L No eager bookseller would grab my book, thrust it into the hands of some wide-eyed teenager, and say, “You have to read this one!”
I had many CONS rolling around in my brain but it took some work to create a PROS list.
·         Missing core part of the YA reader demographic –teens
·         No stumbling upon my book at my local bookstore L
·         Self-pub still has some "vanity press" stigma
·         LOTS OF WORK
·         Readers have been burned by poor quality, self-pubbed material
·         My story will most likely get lost in the deluge of eBooks
·         No publisher sponsored big book release (Did I really think I’d get that going the traditional route?)
·         No advance (But if I’m in this for the money, I’m probably in for a rude awakening!)
·         My story would get read! YA lovers would have an opportunity to read it (Whether 2 readers or 200, this story would exist in the digital universe for readers to find and hopefully love.)
·         With POD (print on demand), hardcopies could be available to order
·         Agility/Complete control over a release date (no 1-3 year wait)
·         Cover control
·         Could call myself an “indie” author and my book “indie” published (We’ll debate the semantics of indie vs. self-pubbed another time.)
·         Very low overhead; set my own, affordable purchase price for eBooks
·         I could move to the next step in my career
·         Get back some creative control
·         I could finally start on a sequel
Conclusion: When I laid it out, my PROS were more compelling than my CONS. Time to leap!
Mood: Frenetic (just got line edits back)
Related topics: Agent Natalie Fischer has a great post from the opposite side of the coin entitled, “Why I’m Scared (to self-publish)”
Great post by Amanda Brice about her journey as an indie-author: here
Your turn: When it comes to self-publishing, what are some of your PROS and CONS?


Melissa Landers said...

As I've told you before, I really admire your bravery.

An obvious "pro" for me would be sharing a project that otherwise would wind up trunked. I'm an entertainer at heart, and I can't stand the thought of nobody reading a story I'd spend months (or years) crafting.

My biggest self-pubbing "con" would be not seeing my book in stores. Every time I go grocery shopping at Kroger, I pass the book aisle and hope to see my work there someday.

Carey_Corp said...

@Melissa Landers - Good to know I'm not the only one who fixates on the book aisle while shopping at Kroger. I see so many author friends on the shelves that I can't help but dream...

Jennette said...

Great list, Carey! Another CON I thought of: you can't enter self-published books in the RITA, or most other prestigious contests. But I'm not sure how big a con that is, since it's questionable whether these awards translate to sales.

PRO #1 is the biggie for me - you can publish a book that publishers think is behind the trend but readers still want, OR you can sell a book that doesn't have a wide enough appeal to sell in big enough qty to make a profit for a big pub (which I think is where I fit in).